Categories > Original > Fantasy > Monster

Day 11

by Togot 0 reviews

Tyler and Malenia have a talk

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-11 - 3646 words


Day 11

Alanna wasn’t waiting outside his door when he’d finally forced himself to get up and go outside. He didn’t blame her, and indeed he hoped that she’d told Malenia what had happened, and that Malenia had finally relieved her of this ridiculous babysitting job without killing her. He left his sword on the floor where he’d thrown it, no longer trusting himself with a weapon. He headed out of the castle, through the courtyard, and out through the gates to go for a run. Exercising usually helped him think, and he had a lot on his mind at the moment. Just what was this place doing to him? Romat was a cannibal who had tried to kill him. Deserae taught an actual class on torture. Turrel was his doctor, and a sadist, and Malenia was the one keeping them all in line. And Tyler? He’d killed four people, and this morning had nearly made it six, finishing the job of ending the lives of everyone who had brought him here.

And why? Because he’d had a bad dream. Not because she’d tried to hurt him, or threatened him, or attacked him, because she’d came to help, and he’d freaked out. The thought of what could have happened tied his stomach into nots as he ran. He wanted to throw up. Knowing he’d killed people already was bad enough, but at least that had been self-defense. There was no justifying what he’d nearly done.

After running a full lap, Tyler stopped for a breather near a tree. He hadn’t brought water or food. Perhaps he was punishing himself. He rested his head against the bark, feeling none of his anger had been burned off. He felt so many things, lost, helpless, angry, afraid. Hell, he’d been afraid since he’d arrived here and it was really starting to wear him down. More than anything, he felt trapped. Trapped in this nightmare world with no way to get back home. It didn’t matter if this was just some coma dream or not; he was stuck here.

Tyler pounded on the tree, halfheartedly at first, the then more forcefully. Then even harder. Again and again until he was punching the bark with his bare knuckles as hard as he could. He felt his skin tear, but didn’t care. There was an odd sense of release from the pain as he yelled, letting all his mixed emotions pour out through his bloody fists until he was spent. He stood there, head still resting against the tree, blood dripping down from his fingertips as he panted for breath. He felt a little better, but nothing had changed.

“That looked painful,” said Malenia from several feet behind him.

Tyler didn’t bother turning around. Part of him had been expecting her to show up sooner or later. No doubt Alanna had told her about what had happened. The only question was, what was she going to do now?

“Is Alanna alright?” He asked. His voice was tired in more ways than one.

“Worried I killed her because she wasn’t at your door today?” Malenia asked. Tyler didn’t have to look at her to see that insufferable smile of hers.

“That wasn’t what I meant, but now that you mention it…”

“She is perfectly safe, I assure you,” Malenia said, sounding bored with Tyler’s implied accusation. “I gave her the day off, and have taken over her duties myself.

“So what now?” Tyler asked.

“Now, I was wondering if you would have a meal with me,” Malenia said, regaining her pleasant tone. “I notice you neglected to eat your breakfast, and did not bring anything here either.”

“…Yeah, ok,” said Tyler. He didn’t have the energy to argue, and he knew this was just a Segway into the talk about what happened. Besides, he was hungry, and thirsty. A meal sounded pretty good right now. He followed her on the long walk back into Haven, and up the steps to her chambers. He said not a word, and the trip had the familiar feeling of every time he’d been dragged to the principal’s office.

He’d been eating alone up until now, and he wasn’t really sure what to expect. Just what the hell did something with teeth like Malenia’s eat? He briefly entertained the idea that he would be the main course, but it seemed a tad silly. If she wanted to kill him, she’d just do it.

Tyler followed Malenia up to her office, or was it her room? He hadn’t seen a bed, but then kannin didn’t need to sleep. They arrived at her chamber, where she offered him a seat at a small table where a meal had been set out for them. Apparently she’d put some thought into this. On his side was a steak and a small cup, on the other was a bowl with a cloth covering it along with another, smaller cup. Malenia sat across from him and picked up a small cup.

“I thought you didn’t need to eat,” Tyler said as he looked over the meal. It was another large chunk of meat. Kannin didn’t seem to have a wide pallet when it came to food.

“Not needing to does not mean that I cannot,” she answered before taking a sip. An awkward silence fell between them. Tyler didn’t feel comfortable eating in front of her, and he was relatively sure the whole thing was just a prelude to conversation anyway, so he’d rather just get to the point.

“Find a way to send me back yet?” he asked.

“Not yet, but there are still sources I have yet to speak with.”

Tyler let out a breath and slouched a little more, disappointed but not surprised. His question answered, he picked up his cup and took a drink. It tasted a lot like tea, whatever it was. “So what happens now?”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked with a coy smile. Tyler hated coy.

“I doubt you brought me up here for tea and crumpets,” he said. “I nearly killed Alanna last night.”

“Crumpets? She asked. “Is that what you call these?” She removed the cloth from the basket and revealed it full of chocolate cupcakes. Tyler stared at them in shock as a dozen brand new questions flooded his already exhausted mind. Malenia picked up one of the bit-sized morsels and tossed it into her mouth. She seemed to enjoy it a great deal. The sight of food so familiar to home actually made Tyler’s mouth water.

“Where did you get those?” he asked at last.

“Oh, I made them,” she said casually. “I would offer you some, but they are just too tasty to share.”

‘That, or she’s aware that they’d vanish the moment I touched them and doesn’t want to let on that she knows,’ he thought, making sure to scramble it. He was getting better about that. The thing that really bothered him was how she knew about cupcakes? Did this planet of Chocó plants and bakeries? Even if she’d summoned it from the ether, she had to have known what they were first.

“Kannin don’t need to eat, which means you don’t need to bake, so how the hell did you make those?”

Malenia held up one of the morsels, and looked at it with something akin to nostalgia in her eyes. “Someone I knew long ago introduced me to them. It took me many years to learn how to make them myself.”

“How did he know about them?”

“He never told me,” Malenia said, almost sadly before eating another.

Tyler was tempted to ask some follow up questions about that, but he realized that she was trying to change the subject. With a tired sigh, he took another drink and began to eat. After several moments of silence, it was Malenia who spoke up again.

“So why did you attack Alanna last night,” She asked. Her voice was calm and neutral, not a hint of anger or judgment

“I had a bad nightmare,” Tyler said. “When I woke up, someone was in the room with me. I just…reacted.” He shrugged helplessly at the pitiful excuse.

Malenia tilted her head ever so slightly. “Nightmare?”

“A bad dream,” Tyler explained. “I take it you don’t have them?”

“It is hard to have bad dreams when one does not sleep,” Malenia said. “What happened in this, bad dream?”

“I was being attacked.”

“By whom?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Tyler said, getting defensive.

“Was it Alanna?” Malenia pressed.

“It was you,” Tyler said, throwing his words like a rock. “You bit my head off.”

Malenia stared it Tyler behind a carefully controlled mask. No smiles, no chuckles, no theatre, just awkward silence.

After the tension hung in the air long enough to make Tyler squirm, Malenia finally spoke again. “I notice you left your sword in your room.”

“I didn’t trust myself with it after what I did.”

“All you did was frighten Alanna.”

“I nearly killed her!” Tyler snapped. “It wasn’t self-defense; she wasn’t trying to hurt me, or threaten me, or anything like that. She came to check on me and I nearly cut her in half!”

“You stopped yourself.”

“And what if I don’t next time, huh? I already got enough blood on my hands without adding more, let alone someone who doesn’t even deserve it. Maybe you can tear her throat out without giving a damn, but I’m not like you!”

At that Malenia smiled ever so slightly. “I think you are more like me than you imagine.”

At that, Tyler exploded “What the fuck do you want from me? Alanna summons me hear and you’re ready to kill her. I nearly kill one of your people, and you bend over backwards to hand wave it away? Why? You’ve been way too nice to me since I got here.”

“Tyler, you wound me,” she said in an overly dramatic way, putting back on her act. “Is it so hard to believe that I simply like you?”

Tyler could not help but laugh. “I’m not likeable even to my own species,” he said. “I killed four of your people the day I arrived. And instead of either killing me as a potential public safety hazard, you give me a room, feed me, clothe me, get me my own personal physician, and let me have the run of the place. Now I nearly kill someone else, and instead of kicking me out before I do it again, you’re having tea with me. You’ve been doting on me since I got her, and I don’t believe someone in your position would put that much energy into something unless they were expecting a return on the investment. I’m not stupid Malenia. What do you want from me?”

Malenia’s frivolous demeanor melted away, and she looked at him with very serious eyes. It was a look that made Tyler nervous, as if he’d just gotten the attention of something far bigger than he was, and now he just wanted to shrink away from its sight. Tyler forced himself to meet her gaze, but it was not easy, and he had no doubt she could sense his fear, and for once she didn’t seem to care.

“Tyler,” she said, “How old do you think I am?”

The question caught Tyler off guard. Was she trying to change the subject again? Tyler looked into her eyes and decided he didn’t want to make this an argument, and he was curious now. He’d never really thought about it before, and he wasn’t sure how to guess a kenning’s age, but if she were human he’d guess. “Late thirties, early forties,” he said with a slight shrug.

Malenia laughed, and it looked like a real one. “Flatterer,” she said, and she looked at him again with a fixed gaze. “I am well over five thousand.”

Tyler stared at maenad, dumbstruck by her words. There was no way that could be right. No, there had to be something lost in translation, some kind of misunderstanding. He hadn’t said she was forty years old. Yes, that had to be it, they weren’t using the same measuring scale. Perhaps Malenia meant days. She was only five thousand days old? He did the math in his head. Thirteen? She was only thirteen years old? Did kannin age in dog years?

“I don’t think we tell time the same way,” he said. “I meant years.”

“As did I,” she said with a big smile, as though she were preening.

“As in the number of days it takes the planet to move around the sun?” Tyler said. “Three-hundred and sixty-five days in a year. You’re five thousand years old?” he said with emphasis on years.

“Actually, our year lasts four-hundred and twenty days,” she said as if it were some interesting indiscrepancy. “So I suppose by your count I’m even older, though I had no idea that our planet moved around the sun. We simply keep track of the changing seasons. How interesting.”

Tyler didn’t even bother doing the math this time. He was too preoccupied by the fact that he was sitting across someone who was older than human civilization. He couldn’t even comprehend living that long. Humans were lucky to make it to a hundred. He was the one aging in dog years. He looked at her and saw that she was waiting with that infinite patience of hers. He now understood how she could be so patient. To her, his entire life probably seemed like a fleeting thing.

“That’s insane,” he said.

“Oh, do humans not live as long?” She asked.

“Most don’t make it a century.”

“That short,” she said in a whisper, and Tyler realized that she really was surprised, but it seemed to make her rather sad, as she was only now realizing that his life really would be fleeting. She bowed her head somberly and said, “I see.”

Silence fell between the two of them as they both weighed the implications of what they’d learned. Tyler now had even more questions. Could all kannin live that long, and if so, just what was their age limit? He remembered what Alanna had said about elders founding clans on their children. That made more sense if they lived as long as Malenia. They could act like queen ants and just keep pumping out offspring. How could any population be stable with such long lives? Did they have low fertility, high mortality? Using the ant analogy again, perhaps only the elders were able to reach such an old age while the young ones had much shorter life spans.

Malenia sighed heavily and then looked at Tyler again. “To answer your original question,” she said calmly, and her eyes now seemed softer somehow. “The attention I have given you hasn’t been the taxing drain on my time you seem to think. I have set up Haven in such a way that it mostly runs itself, and requires very little supervision. My interactions with you have been a joy. You are by far the most interesting person I have met in several centuries. Most kannin think alike, act alike, and are driven by the same desires, but you? Your way of thinking is so alien, so new, that every conversation with you makes me feel young again. I had no idea our world circled the sun, or that sound was made of vibrations in the air, or that a small little creature with no magic could kill a kannin using a sharp piece of metal.”

She paused to let her words sink in, and they did. Tyler had never even considered that possibility, but now that she said it, it made sense. The way she hung on his words when he explained things, how the other kannin crossed around when he played music in his mind, something they had never heard before. The kannin’ lack of curiosity had resulted in stagnation and boredom, but if they were learning from him, what was he teaching them?

“As for the deaths you mentioned,” said Malenia as she looked down into her cup. “It is true that I mourn their loss, they were my charges, and I value the life of each and every one. However, I do not begrudge you for defending yourself, in fact I find the guilt you feel very touching, and I share in it for their loss and for yours. I do value Alana’s life, but my position makes it impossible for me to simply overlook her betrayal. I simply wished to make you fully aware of the consequences of releasing her from your service. I regret that it gave you such a negative image of me. The fact you are so upset by your actions against Alanna, even to the point of hurting yourself, is only further evidence that you value life far more than most kannin do. ”

Malenia looked up, and the two locked eyes again. “Tyler, it is possible that you will never go home again. Never see your family or your world or another member of your species within your lifetime. In many ways, this is my fault, and while I will continue to try to find a way to send you home, I will also do whatever I can to ease that burden in the hopes that you will stay here with me in the meantime. I will not force you to remain against your will. If you were to ask, I would take you anywhere within my power to travel, but be aware that Haven is the safest place for you on this world. Any other clan would likely kill you, seeing you as the danger you describe yourself to be Alanna will never again enter your room when you are sleeping, so you need not worry about harming her in this fassion. I ask you consider your future choices carefully.”

Tyler honestly didn’t know what to say to all of that. He took a deep breath, and found that it was shaky. The conversation had become far heavier than he’d expected. It seemed he had some big decisions to make. Malenia said he could leave if he wished, but where would he go? He didn’t even know where there was to go, and if what Malenia said about the other clans was true, this really was his best bet.

“Thanks,” he said, and he was surprised to find his throat so tight. “I think I’ll be staying here.”

Malenia’s smiled happily, and it reached her eyes.

Tyler smiled back and said, “I may need you to help me expand and modify my room a bit though. I can‘t keep running outside every time I got to take a leak.”

“Wonderful,” said Malenia in her overly cheerful tone.
Tyler looked over his new accommodations, or rather modified. Much like the stone toilet from his second day, Malenia had made the rock of the walls move and shape to her design. It was mesmerizing to watch. She had opened up his room to one next door and turned it into a large bathroom for him. It had a sink with running water, a bathtub and even a working toilet. They had all used an impressive combination of science and sorcery. They were all fed by an enchanted reservoir of water in the ceiling which was constantly refilling itself with water summoned from a nearby lake. Gravity provided the pressure, and the waste was sent through a permanent one-way portal to valley down below.

Working out the mechanics of it had actually been fun for him. Finally a problem he could solve. Malenia had also been fascinated by the ingenuity of humans. She found it hard to believe that every home had such a setup using water pipes that ran for miles. The good doctor had provided Tyler with a toothbrush and his best attempt at toothpaste. It tasted terrible, but it worked well enough. Malenia had even brought him several changes of clothes, and his original shirt and jeans had been washed. Tyler had no clue how they managed to get the blood stains out without using magic, but he wasn’t complaining.

He had also told Malenia how to make a mirror, something which she had instantly fallen in love with. Kannin could use magic to see themselves, but she found the mirror for more convenient, and had made herself a full sized on for her office. Tyler’s mirror was much smaller and now hung over the sink. As he looked it himself, he realized that the next thing he needed to ask for was a razor. He was just starting to grow facial hair, and it wouldn’t look very good until it started to come in fuller.

It had been a long and eventful day, and as Tyler got ready for bed, he wondered if he would ever see home again. Malenia didn’t seem to think so, and she knew a lot more about magic than he did, but he knew how to think outside the box. But that could wait until morning. Right now he was tired, and his bed felt far too comfortable to ignore. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep with his sword still in hand.
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